March 24, 2016

Pennsylvanians benefit from more economic liberty

By Caleb R. Trotter Attorney

It has been said that “no man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.” In Pennsylvania that couldn’t be more true. Two bills are currently pending in the Pennsylvania Legislature that would erect barriers to entrepreneurs, stifling competition and reducing choices for consumers.

First, SB 874 would change state law to protect funeral homes from competition from cemeteries. A growing number of cemeteries in Pennsylvania are selling caskets and storing them until the purchaser’s passing, cutting into the profits of competing funeral homes. The bill would effectively end the cemetery sales to the benefit of funeral homes. In fact, one of the bill’s sponsors is a funeral home owner, and has threatened to halt any other work of the Senate Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure Committee he leads until the cemetery bill passes.

Second, HB 1438 would create an occupational license for music therapists. I have previously written about the unnecessary, burdensome, and unconstitutional attempts to license music therapists in other states here, here, here, and here. Suffice it to say, Pennsylvania’s proposed music therapy license does nothing to protect the public, while imposing burdensome requirements on music therapists to the detriment of the public.

These two laws are only the most recent examples of industry insiders taking advantage of the political process to enact laws that protect themselves from competition. As Larry Salzman and I discuss today in this op-ed:

Economic protectionism is a direct assault on one of the most cherished constitutional rights that all Americans possess: the right to earn a living in the occupation of one’s choice, free of unnecessary governmental interference. Protectionism also harms consumers by limiting choices and increasing prices. Fortunately, there is another path: economic freedom.

Once before–after Pacific Legal Foundation filed a lawsuit–Pennsylvania policymakers did the right thing and repealed an anti-competitive law in the moving industry. Pennsylvania was right to reject cronyism then, and there are no rational reasons to embrace it now in other industries.

You can read our full op-ed on the subject in the Patriot News here.

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